PinPoint Guest Blog – by Corey Bleich, EdgePoint Learning
Converting Your Current Online Training to Location-Based Microlearning
For many of today’s workers whose jobs don’t involve a desk, it’s critical that they have access to the information they need when and where they need it. These employees don’t need drawn-out (and frequently boring) training courses. They need training when and where they need to use the information. That’s where location-based microlearning comes in.
How ACME Corp Improved Safety
As a result of a safety review, ACME Corp learned that the managers and line workers in their manufacturing facilities were dangerously unaware of how to identify combustible dust hazards. Even though every employee was required to complete a half-hour combustible dust safety eLearning course each year, they did not appear to retain the information or to put it into practice. In response, ACME took a new approach. They used their existing eLearning as the basis for creating several short microlearning learning objects. These short training topics were created specifically for use on the employees smartphones and tablets giving them access to the information wherever they were. These microlearning objects were not just used to provide training, but they also served as on-the-job resources allowing workers to quickly review or find information right when they needed it.
ACME saw significant increase in their workers’ knowledge about combustible dust and the number of reports of combustible dust hazards increased by 25% in the six months following the introduction of microlearning. At the suggestion of one of the factory managers, ACME implemented a technology that allowed relevant microlearning to be “pushed” to workers based on where the workers were at work or to quickly find relevant information specific to their location and the combustible dust hazards in that area. As expected, making the microlearning location-based further increased the employees’ working knowledge of combustible dust hazards and the reporting of these hazards.
What is microlearning?
So what is microlearning? Microlearning was born out of the necessity to create quick, accessible training for employees. Microlearning resources capitalize on these smaller training opportunities since they:
· Are typically only two to three minutes long
· Can be accessed by employees when and how they choose
· Are tied to one specific learning objective or concept
How does microlearning work?
Microlearning isn’t just a shorter course that’s sometimes delivered on a mobile device. It’s a departure from the idea of “courses” all together. Instead, think of microlearning as resources that your employees access when and where they need them the most.Because it’s not just shorter courses, microlearning is built around an employee’s actual learning cycles. Instead of forgetting most of the content after a longer training, employees can continue to access those resources, as they need them. This repetition helps move that information into long-term, working memory.
What are the benefits of microlearning?
Microlearning is more effective for most topics, is desperately needed by time- and attention-hungry employees, and reduces strain on your current training resources.
The stats don’t lie:
· 17% improvement in knowledge transfer when learning is broken into smaller chunks
· Mobile learners study an additional 40 minutes per week, on their own time
· 50% of college-going Millennials are not in favor of physical classroom learning
· Most employees only have 24 minutes a week to dedicate to training
· Microlearning resources take 300% less time and 50% less cost to produce than traditional courses
Why Make Training Location-Based?
Where training happens plays a big role in retention and how well learners can apply knowledge and skills. In the case of microlearning, location means place AND time. The closer the training is to the place and time the information is needed, the more useful it is to your learners and the more likely they are to retain and apply the information in similar situations in the future.
What is Location-Based Training?
There are several ways to make training location-based. In the days before eLearning, it was chaining a binder of information at a workstation near a piece of manufacturing equipment. Today, thanks to mobile devices, digital information can be “tied” to specific locations in various ways. Training can be pushed to your employees using geofences and the location services on their phones, using Bluetooth beacons to make training available within areas within a facility or job site, or RFID to make training available in a very specific place.
Sometimes the best way to train is to allow your employees to pull the information when they need it. Barcodes, QR codes, and advancements in Augmented Reality (AR) make it possible for your learners to get just the information they need when they need it using the cameras on their phones.
Making the Switch
Many organizations have invested considerable cost and time into their existing eLearning - training that can sometimes require an hour or more for their employees to complete. In the best of scenarios, employees remember only a small fraction of the training and the chances of the training resulting in lasting behavior change are minimal. How can companies follow ACME’s example and leverage their existing eLearning investments to improve the effectiveness of their training without significant additional cost? Let’s break this town into a 2-step process:
1. Convert your training to microlearning objects
2. Make your new microlearning available when and where your employees need the information.
Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Why start from scratch if you can use your existing online training as a starting point to save time and money.
1. Think small. Microlearning works best when it’s short and focused to one very specific learning objective or task. Review your existing training and ask yourself, “What are the key points my employees need to remember and be able to apply?” Next, try to distill each point down to as few words as possible while noting any existing media elements you might want to leverage such as images or audio clips. If you find your topic expanding to more than 2-5 minutes, think smaller.
2. Choose your media. One of the advantages of microlearning is that you have many options to choose from when it comes to the form your training should take: short videos, infographics, checklist, diagrams, audio clips, annotated photos, or any other type of media you can think of. If you can see or hear it on your phone, it can probably be used for training. Let the content and what you know about your employees drive your choice of media. Is the topic something that is easier to understand with an infographic? A short illustrative animation like this one? A simple text document? Sometimes a short eLearning video like this video on SMART Goals will do the trick.
3. How do your employees like to learn? Are they used to learning home repair on YouTube? Do they prefer to read something at their own speed? If you’re first starting out with microlearning, try some different formats and get feedback from your employees to find the best fit for your workforce.
4. Create your microlearning. Once you’ve determined the content you will use for each microlearning object and the format, it’s time to start building. Remember, microlearning should convey the most important information quickly while being engaging and memorable. The tools you’ll use to create your microlearning will depend on the format (video, audio, infographic, eLearning, etc) and the tools you have at your disposal. Remember, it doesn’t need to be fancy. Instead, think useful and engaging. If you’re just getting started with microlearning, there’s no need to go out and buy a lot of software. There are some great free or nearly-free programs out there. Even better - Think about creating content using your phone or tablet. It will help you keep things simple and you’ll be guaranteed it will work well on your employees mobile devices.
Get Your Microlearning Out There
Now that you have your microlearning objects, how will you get them to your employees when and where they need them?
1. Choose your platform. If your employees can’t easily access microlearning when they need it, they are not likely to use it. The key is to remove barriers for your employees. Searching through a catalog to find a microlearning object in your LMS can be time consuming and frustrating. Broaden your view and think outside the LMS. What platforms does your company already have that employees can easily access? Can they access these platforms from a mobile device? Will the microlearning be easy to find? think about: Will you push content or will your employees pull content?
To make your microlearning more effective, consider using a system that can make delivery location-based. If your employees can view the information they are most likely to need based on their physical location in the workplace or proximity to a piece of equipment, they are more likely to use the microlearning you created. With platforms like PinPoint Workforce, you can make your microlearning location-based using geofences, Bluetooth beacons, barcodes, or QR codes. Employees can receive notifications on their phone when they are “in range” of relevant microlearning or they can easily find information by scanning a barcode or QR code.
2. Deliver. Once you’ve created your microlearning and decided how you will get the training to your employees, it’s important to have a well-defined process for how you will set up your microlearning in the chosen delivery platform, making sure your employees know how the microlearning is available and how to access it, and most importantly - getting feedback from your employees to make sure the microlearning is providing what your employees need when and where they need it. Your employees will provide valuable information to help you improve your microlearning and how that training is delivered.
Ready to Go Micro and Location-Based?
At EdgePoint learning, we’ve been creating all types of custom eLearning (including microlearning) for over a decade. We’ve partnered with PinPoint Workforce to help our customers stay ahead of the game in meeting their employees needs, making them safer, and improving the bottom line through training. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can create location-based microlearning for your employees, it’s time to talk to the experts. PinPoint’s mobile-native platform was created for just this purpose. Let PinPoint show you how they can help get you up and running and provide your employees the training they need when and where they need it.